When I was a kid my dad told me that to hate someone or something was to become just like that person or thing. At the time I didn’t think much about it. My capacity for hate developed more or less with my addiction issues. It would be sometime before I realized that the old man had known what he was talking about.
It’s no secret that I’m a recovering alcoholic and addict. I also like to say that I’m a recovering Southern Baptist. My belief in and subsequent rejection of what Scott Peck (The Road Less Traveled) labeled the Monster God didn’t serve me well either before or after I began trying to get sober. (I recently wrote What I Believe, should you be curious where I’m at now, spiritually speaking.)
I’ve been following a couple of posts at de-conversion, My contempt for religious answers to psychological issues and Fundamentalism, Psychotherapy, and De-Conversion. One in particular has spurred me to think back on my own recovery, or spiritual journey if you wish. It has been a long and painful process and probably needn’t have been either. If there’s a difficult or incorrect way to do something, I’m apt to choose it.
It’s not surprising there are scores of people trying to come to terms with their faith or lack thereof. Obviously it’s a huge part of the human condition. Many of us may be hardwired to have stronger faith than others. (See Searching for God in the Brain.) Others probably gravitate towards faith in God for more practical reasons. It’s interesting, and a tremendous struggle for many of us to come to terms with.
For a lot of years I was very angry with God, the Southern Baptists, and Christians in general. I’m naturally rebellious and that doubtlessly played some part in it. People with problems often need something or someone to blame for them. I suspect it’s some sort of defense mechanism that actually does us more harm than good. Even now I catch myself wanting to blame something or somebody when the wheels come off my life. I have to keep reminding myself that blame is for children.
Additionally I think I needed someone or something to blame for my lack of worldly success. I liked to tell myself that if I’d had the chances others had, or if I hadn’t had the stumbling blocks, like my Baptist upbringing, then I’d almost certainly be successful personally, financially, etc. It was a bitter pill for me swallow, but today I know the cream invariably rises to the top. Had I been more intelligent, better looking, more industrious, and not had the glaring problems I’ve had, I might have “amounted to something”.
My disdain for fundamentalist Christians didn’t begin to abate until I was in my mid-30s. By then I’d made such a mess of my life that I had to concede to myself that as ridiculous as they were, I was exponentially more so. Additionally I slowly began to accept what I’d discovered several years earlier – that if other people are responsible for my problems, then I can’t do anything about them (either the problems or the people), but if I am responsible, then I have an outside chance at implementing some change.
Today I realize that the fundamentalist don’t intentionally harm people emotionally. Some of them are just really ignorant and aggressive. Many of them, though, are intelligent, happy, otherwise-sane folks who just happen to believe something most other intelligent adults don’t. Today I prefer to avoid them, but do so with a “not now brother, I must be about my Father’s work” instead of a “fuck you you mental midget ass-wipe”. It’s working out pretty well for me.